A wildfire started in the Aqam Community on Aug. 23, after a lightning storm passed over the region. Trevor Crawley photo.

UPDATED: Homes evacuated in ʔaq̓am community as firefighters respond to wildfires

A number of properties in the ʔaq̓am community were evacuated Tuesday afternoon as firefighters responded to a wildfire that started in proximity to the community housing corridor.

While 13 homes were initially placed under evacuation order, seven were able to return to their properties by late evening, according to an update. Six homes remain on evacuation order, while 23 homes are on evacuation alert.

“We are thankful for the fast response of the emergency personnel and for the action and cooperation of the residents who reported the fire and followed the directions of emergency personnel,” said Nasuʔkin (Chief) Joe Pierre Jr, in a news release.

”We ask that residents and the public remain out of the area of the fire as there is risk of tree fall and other hazards present. We want to ensure that firefighters have room to ensure they can continue their firefighting operations.

Firefighters from the City of Cranbrook and the BC Wildfire Service responded to the wildfire, with a helicopter conducting bucketing operations in support.

The Regional District of East Kootenay emergency management personnel, Red Cross, BC Ambulance Service, Cranbrook RCMP and personnel from the Ktunaxa Nation Council and ʔaq̓am community emergency management committees also provided support during the incident.

A number of wildfires sparked in the East Kootenay on Tuesday after a lightning storm passed through the region. Firefighters also responded to starts near the Canadian Rockies International Airport, as flights were briefly grounded for an hour.